Tag Archives: food truck

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: August 24

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Check out these five stories from the foodservice industry from August 20-24.

First Lady Hosts First Kid’s “State Dinner” at White House

From Let’s Move!, Read Full Story

Alaska Teriyaki Salmon Wrap, Stuffed Tomatoes, Johna’s Pesto Pizza, Vegetable Quinoa Salad with Chicken and  are four of the 54 winning recipe entries that went into Let’s Move!’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook.

Although winners weren’t award-winning chefs with decades of experience, but rather young chefs between the ages of eight through 12.  They submitted their recipes through Let’s Move!’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, and for winning, were able to attend the first Kid’s State Dinner at the White House, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama.  (And crashed by President Barack Obama).  Winners came from all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Northern Marina Islands.  Check out Let’s Move! to learn about winners, see select recipes and to download a copy of the cookbook.

Colorado Hospital Foodservice to Test Charging Less for Healthier Items

From Food Management, Read Full Story

The statement, “I would eat healthier if it wasn’t so expensive,” is a very popular one.  Well one hospital cafeteria is making that an unacceptable excuse. The Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colo. has launched a pilot program that will run through the fall titled the “Healthy U” program.

A Food Management article said this program has changed pricing so healthier foods will cost less.  The cafeteria hopes the lower prices will help customers choose the healthier items.  As an example, Food Management said a vegetarian hamburger will be $2.25 a regular beef burger will now cost $3.

Nation’s Restaurant News’ Special Report on Health Care

From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Full Story

When President Obama’s health care law was upheld in June, many members of the foodservice industry became concerned as to how it would affect their business.  Under the new law, NRN said employers with 50 or more full-time employees are required to offer health insurance to them and their dependents, otherwise they will have to pay a penalty.  They added this new law doesn’t go into affect until 2014 and many of the requirements are unknown.

In a NRN article released shortly after the law was upheld (in June), they quoted Vice President of Government and Shareholder Relations for White Castle, Jamie Richardson, who had concerns about the unknowns and said, “The biggest thing still is the uncertainty about how the rules are going to be written.  It needs to be made actionable in the real world in a way that doesn’t cripple business.”  Because of the many concerns similar to Richardson’s, NRN put together this article, “Health Care Compliance Advice for Restaurants” to help.

College Foodservice’s New Rival: The Food Truck

From The Wall Street Journal, Read Full Story

The day in the life of a college student includes rushing from one end of campus to another, many times leaving only 15 minutes to eat, study, or get to their next class.  Cafeteria lines get long, which is something food trucks are helping students with.  However, the rise in food trucks is not the greatest for campus foodservices.

Some foodservices have exclusive rights to serve food per their contract with a college or university while others don’t.  According to a Wall Street Journal article, food trucks have become many campus foodservices’ competition.  They spoke with several students who said they enjoy the variety food trucks bring.  So what’s a solution?  WSJ said there are currently about 100 university-ran food trucks across the county, and there are other campuses who work with local food trucks and grant them special access to park and serve.  The food truck industry has certainly given college campuses something new to think about and possibly new approaches to serving students.

Healthy Weekend Recipes

From Various Sources, See Below

Looking for some new menu ideas for the weekend?  You would be surprised how many great recipes are floating out there that are healthy.  Here are a few unique recipes we found to help you boost creativity.  Happy cooking!

Delish: Light Beef and Eggplant Lasagna

SkinnyTaste: Baked Corn and Crab Cakes

Hungry Girl: Taq’ a Breakfast

Food Network: Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf

Eating Well: White Pizza with Clams

 

 

 

Super Bowl Foodservice Series Part 2: Food Trucks, Rescue and State-Wide Events

Monument Circle/Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center

Welcome to the second part of our Super Bowl foodservice series. If you missed the first part, click here to see how downtown restaurants have been impacted by the 10 day extravaganza that leads up to the Super Bowl.

Aside from restaurants, mobile food will play a very important role during this year’s Super Bowl events.

While there will be mobile food sites all over, the city has created a special opportunity just for food trucks and have set aside space just for them on downtown Indianapolis’ Monument Circle.

The trucks will be out from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday Jan. 27 through Sunday Jan. 29 and Thursday Feb. 2 through Sunday Feb. 5.

The space is available in two shifts, 11 trucks in the first shift, then 12 trucks in the second.

Duos Indy food truck is one of the trucks that will park on Monument Circle.  Becky Hostetter, chef and a co-owner of Duos, said they are nervous and excited.

“For food trucks, we don’t really know how it will play out but we are planning on all goodness and light.”

Duos Indy/Duos Indy Facebook

One of the interesting aspects of their plans (as for many of the other food trucks and restaurants) has been the menu.

“We want to remain true to our brand and serve with speed, serve food that speaks to the guests and maintains integrity.”

The NY Slice is another truck to park on Monument Circle and said they have had to increase staff by 80 percent.  They have also produced a second truck with two serving windows and two brick ovens inside.

With hundreds of thousands coming to Indianapolis, restaurants, hotels, etc., have worked extremely hard to make sure everyone that walks through their doors gets a meal.  However, believe it or not, not all of the food is used.

That’s where local food rescue organizations like Second Helpings come in and rescue unused food and redistribute it to the hungry.

Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings, said they were approached by the 1st & Green part of the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee to rescue food during this year’s Super Bowl events.

Souper Bowls/Second Helpings

He mentioned Super Bowl host committees started working with food rescue organizations three years ago at the Miami Super Bowl and that year alone rescued about 90,000 pounds of food.

Shine described rescued food as anything overstocked, over prepared or unused that has not yet been served to the public.  It also must have only been handled by safe food handlers.

He isn’t sure how much they will rescue, but knows they certainly will.  And as they are located in downtown Indianapolis, they have already developed relationships with several restaurants, hotels, etc., which will make the food rescue process much easier.

“There is not as big of a learning curve,” he said, as compared to cities where food rescuing isn’t common.  “Restaurants will know how to store and take care of the foods.”

Also, to kick off Second Helpings’ involvement with the Super Bowl, they have joined together with local artists and chefs for the event “Souper Bowls 2012,” which will be held on Saturday Jan. 28.

Souper Bowls/Second Helpings

Souper Bowls is a chance for the public to taste some of city’s best soups as well as meet with artists, chefs and members of the community to fight hunger in Central Indiana.

The events being held for the Super Bowl are endless–and extend far beyond Indianapolis’ downtown area near Lucas Oil Stadium where much of the action will take place.

OAKLEY’s Bistro is located on Indianapolis’ northwest side.  Despite being 15 to 30 minutes from downtown (depending on how traffic behaves), they have had to make several adjustments to accommodate guests.

“We have a few larger parties coming in, companies that are entertaining, but for the most part we expect our business to come from hotels in our immediate area when people are deciding where to eat,” said Chris Hopkins, manager at OAKLEY’S.

Normally, OAKLEY’s is closed on Sundays and Mondays but will have special hours to be open on Sunday Jan. 29 and Monday Jan. 30.  They will also be open on Super Bowl Sunday at 11 a.m. for a Champagne Brunch.

There are around 20 other areas and cities, some as far as 45 miles outside of Indianapolis, declared as Super Celebration Sites.  Some sites are businesses while others are restaurants.

“Super Celebration sites are natural gathering places which provide opportunities for residents and visitors to get information about the many activities surrounding the Super Bowl,” their website said.

IN State Fair Host Committee Promotional Booth/Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center

“The Super Celebration Site program is designed to connect Central Indiana regional communities hosting NFL fans and guests.  Each site has housing for NFL guests and fans, a concentration of restaurants and other hospitality amenities and a collaborative group to plan and organize programming.”

Becoming a city set to host the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to showcase what a city has to offer.  It’s a lot of work for all involved, but all the hard work pays off in both the short and long term.

Indianapolis sure has a lot to offer and it will be a great 10 days.  We’ll be sure to follow up with the restaurants and food trucks mentioned, as well as Second Helpings to see how all events pan out.

If you have anything to share about your Super Bowl experience, whether it’s this year in Indianapolis or a previous year, let us know! We’d love to hear about it.

Central’s Week in Brief: May 27, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We’ll feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more.  It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

1) Beginning June 2, 2011 the Food Pyramid will be replaced.  The new icon will represent a change from a basic guideline of what and how much to eat to a more balanced program that teaches what steps to take to lead a healthier lifestyle.  Robert C. Post, PhD, deputy director of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion told WebMD, “There will be a ‘how-to’ that will resonate with individuals. That is the behavioral part that is needed. We need to transcend information — ‘here’s what the science says’ — and give people the tools and the opportunities to take action.”

2) The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has been motoring around the country for 75 years now.  Since then there have been many upgrades and for this year’s big anniversary the Wienermobile’s latest improvement was a no-brainer: turn it into a food truck.  The newest Wienermobile was unveiled in New York City with Chef Tyler Florence handing out hot dogs, but you can also get in on the action as the new food truck hits the road for a 12 city tour this summer.

3) Many chefs that make a living preparing pork are rejoicing this week, while others may be a little slow to come around to a new pork cooking guideline by the USDA.  Pork now must only reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit versus the previously required 160 degrees.  This change comes as a result of improved hog feeding processes which have decreased (but not eliminated) the risk for trichinosis, a disease caused by eating undercooked meat.

4)  On a sadder (to some) note, this week media icon Oprah Winfrey said good-bye to her talk-show audience for the final time after 25 years on the air.  It’s hard to think of a world without Oprah, but never fear you can always enjoy some of Ms. Winfrey’s favorite foods (from her Favorite Things lists) to help you carry on now that her show is no more.  Here’s a list of just a few favorites: Beecher’s Mac & Cheese, Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbetto, Greenberg Smoked Turkey, Garrett Popcorn’s CarmelCrisp® and CheeseCorn™, Centerville Pie’s Oprah Chicken Pie and Moveable Feast Brownies.

5) And since it’s the 3 day Memorial Day weekend that means it’s a perfect time to break out the grill and get cooking.  But why just make your average run of the mill burgers and hot dogs, why not spice things up a little?   Try this recipe for Devil’s Meatloaf on the Grill from AllRecipes.com, remember to keep an eye on the grill and keep the kids away and if all else fails check out Alton Brown’s must-have for grilling.

Twists, Turns and Trends for the Modern Food Truck

The original incarnation of a mobile meal was usually a late night last resort or a pit stop for lunch on a busy day, not necessarily somewhere you’d think of waiting in hour-long lines.  They were home to common street fare such as your average hot dog or maybe a generic sandwich.  No longer is any of this the case.   Food carts are now the trendiest hot spot, a place with loyal followers who expect nothing less than gourmet cuisine…at a reasonable price, of course.

FoodTruckToday you can truly get just about any type of delicacy just by walking down the street (and probably waiting anywhere from 10-40 minutes).  An article on Eater.com, says that the Rib Whip truck in San Francisco boasts it’s on-board smoker, to serve up pulled-pork and beef brisket.  To add even more variety to the bunch, Coolhaus, itself peddling gourmet ice cream sandwiches, has developed a food truck…for dogs.  The Phydough Truck, launched on January 8th in Los Angeles, serves up cookies, ice cream and bake-at-home dough in such flavors as Duck Fat, PB & Bacon and Foie Gras, all of which can be eaten by man’s best friend and their human.

Why the sudden shift to mobile food (other than the fabulous fare)?  Like everything else, the economy has had its effect on the restaurant world.  In a Los Angeles Times article, former Hermosa Beach mayor and current owner of Barbie’s Q, John Bowler, said that it cost only about $40,000 to open his truck about $160,000 less than a brick-and-mortar restaurant.   That’s not to mention that while most restaurants stress about location, location, location, if your place is on wheels, you can pick and go where the customers are.

Unique advertising and good timing can also be thanked for the boost in trucks in a downturn economy.  Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites have played a huge part in the transportation food industry.  Owners and workers can simply put up a status with today’s specials or tweet their lunch location, head there with their goods and (TA-DA!) throngs of customers.  Well, there is a bit more to it, but that is the basis of many of these roaming restaurant’s marketing plans.  John Ban, of West Coast Tacos in Indianapolis, said, “Social Networking has been a great advantage for our business because we have not spent any money on marketing.”  He went on to touch on just why this new tech tool is so invaluable.  “We have a more personal relationship with our customers through social media.  It allows us to interact with our fans around the city very easily,” said Ban.  However, like any business, especially a new one, timing is always the easiest in with an audience.  Ban’s West Coast Tacos, saw the food truck boom in other cities, like L.A., and felt the time was right to jump on the chance to be the first to start up the trend in Indy.

If low costs and cheap marketing are making you want to jump in your van and serve up some grub of your own, you may want to first know that there are some significant downsides the non-traditional restaurant scene as well.

The major bump in the road for so many vendors has been getting permits for serving in a vehicle.  Many cities have strict rules about what can and cannot be done inside a vehicle, which can put a damper on serving items that aren’t pre-packaged in a kitchen before the day begins.   In recent weeks, several articles have come up on crack downs on food trucks in Chicago.  One such article, on food.change.org, said that “Chicago officials claim that these anti-food truck ordinances (no altering food and parking up to 200 feet from a restaurant) exist in order to protect consumers’ health and safety.”  However, in Chicago and many other cities, a majority of the squabble has been that restaurant owners worry about having food trucks competition, park right outside their business and taking away customers.

Another obstacle the vehicles face is also due to that wonderful upside mentioned earlier: location.  While it’s beneficial to be able to cruise around to customers, being relatively unsheltered from the elements can pose a few problems.  Going out in the frigid, frosty mess for lunch can be a little less than inviting which cuts down on customers.  In an article in The Washington Post when asked how the cold has affected business, “Operators of four trucks say their sales have dropped by 40 to 50 percent from peak numbers.”  That isn’t even taking into account money lost on food, gas, etc. that must be spent on a daily basis to keep the business going and those inside the trucks warm enough to operate.

So far these obstacles haven’t stopped food truck operators from working on fresh and creative ways to keep on going.  In Oregon, many mobile businesses are attempting to get licensing to sell alcohol, according to OregonLive.com.   The article states that selling brews would give owners of food trucks the chance to “make a living in the increasingly crowded Portland food-cart industry while also attracting customers to neighboring mobile restaurants.”   And while not a possibility at the moment, there may even come a day when a restaurant may not only sport wheels, but also wings.  Recently an article on Curbed Los Angeles even reported that an architecture class at USC, taught by Jennifer Siegal, challenged students to create the future of the business.  Submissions included everything from wings that caught rain water for future use to a donut delivery system that will drive over a car and drop in pastries and coffee.

Until wings can be made small enough to prevent trucks from hitting passersby, before a new super social media site is created and pending any delicious new delicacies, the success of food trucks today and in the future can be summed up with this advice, courtesy of John Ban:  “Make sure your product is of very high quality, because the number one reason why our business grew was because our Tacos were made from the best ingredients and meats. This created numerous return customers for us and they spread the word about our Taco Truck. Word of mouth is the strongest form of marketing. People always listen to recommendations from another person, but people don’t always pay attention to commercials or advertisements.”